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CMST 3JJ3 Rise of The Music Indusrty (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Christina Baade


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 330

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23349

Office Hours: 1-3 Thursdays

Course Objectives:

This course examines the role of media, technology, performance, policy and business practices in the historical and ongoing development of the music industry and of popular music and its cultural meanings. We will consider how changing modes of music performance, distribution and consumption affect our thinking about music—as a performance, an aesthetic object, a cultural text, and a commodity. We will pay particular attention to how musical genres are articulated in relation to identities of gender, race, class, nationality, and sexuality for both cultural producers and audiences.

With an approach grounded in the interdisciplinary field of popular music studies, we will gain an understanding of the music industry as complex, contingent and historically changing. Through readings, lectures, in-class and online discussions, and a group genre project, students in this course will gain insight into the following questions:


  • What do we mean when we refer to “the popular,” to popular music, and to “the” music industry?
  • What are we paying for when we pay for “music”? How do performers and other cultural producers negotiate concepts of work, play, and leisure when they make music?
  • What is musical genre? How does it relate to notions of authenticity and identities of race, gender, etc.? How does genre shape the music industry—and how does the music industry shape genre?
  • What are some strategies for interpreting musical texts and performances?
  • How has the role of live performance in the music industry changed historically? How has this affected the lives and livelihoods of performers?
  • How has the recording industry changed historically in terms of technology, business practices, and marketing? How has this affected performers, consumers, and musical genres?
  • How have the roles of songwriter, producer, and performer changed historically? What role does gender, race, and genre play in how we evaluate the skill, authenticity, and originality of musicians?
  • What role do music critics play—and how can writing music criticism help us think more creatively about the industry and musical meaning?
  • How do popular music scholars conceptualize audiences, fans, subcultures, and scenes?
  • How is the music scene in Hamilton changing? What are some key debates in Hamilton cultural policy?
  • What are the policy aims and cultural effects of CanCon?
  • How has music radio changed historically in terms of technology, programming, and policy? What role do notions of musical genre and gender identity play in shaping format radio? What is the state of music radio—and streaming music services—now?
  • What are some of the historic synergies between the popular music and the film industries?
  • What role do music videos play in the music industry? How does this relate to their aesthetics?
  • How has music been used to convey political and social attitudes? How have official bodies responded?
  • How is the music industry changing today? How can studying historical change help us better understand contemporary developments? How is the digital revolution changing music communities, how we consume music, and the lives of musicians?

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Shuker, Roy. Understanding Popular Music Culture, 5th ed. New York: Routledge, 2016. May be purchased at the McMaster University Campus Store.

Other course readings are available on Avenue to Learn.

Method of Assessment:

Evaluation (Grading)

Your grade will be based on the following:

10% Attendance and participation (due date: ongoing)

21% Online discussion postings (due date: weekly; submit in Discussions on Avenue to Learn)

30% Group genre project (due date: ongoing; see course outline for dates and submission guidelines)

9% Music criticism assignment (due date: 8 November; submit to Dropbox on Avenue to Learn)

30% Final exam (cumulative; to be scheduled by Registrar)


See for the grading scale.


Evaluation Components:

Attendance and participation (10% of final grade)

Discussion and group work is a critical component of this class, particularly during the in-class genre labs. Therefore, attendance at and participation is required. Participation means coming to class ready to contribute to discussion, having read the assignment with the help of the reading guide. Please bring your textbook, courseware and/or reading printouts, and reading notes to every class (reading notes should consist of answers to reading guide questions, bullet points about the strengths and weaknesses of the article, and any questions you have arising from the reading). Participation marks may include reading quizzes and group work. On genre lab days, participation means coming class having made progress on your contributions to the group project and ready to work effectively with your group. Tardiness and absences will have a negative effect upon this grade. If you have a learning disability or other issue that makes participation in class discussion a problem for you, please bring this to my attention early in the semester.

On-line discussion posts (3% each x 7 = 21% of final grade)

The goal of the Avenue to Learn discussion forums is to help you synthesize class lecture, discussion, readings, and the research conducted by your genre group and other groups in the class; to provide a place for you to react on a personal level to course material and discussions; and to help stimulate class discussion. Students should respond to discussion questions, to other entries on the topic, to in-class discussion, and to the readings, and group blogs themselves. Your postings should demonstrate that you have done the readings (e.g., citing specific passages with in-text citations), but they should not be summaries. You will have 11 opportunities to post throughout the semester, from Thursday, 13 September, to Thursday, 29 November: each post is due by 2:30 p.m. on the date given on Avenue to Learn. (You may post one additional entry for extra credit.) For each post, you should submit one entry of 400-500 words. These entries are informal (you may use first person statements), so aim to spend about an hour writing them. They should still display good grammar, correct spelling, and creative, critical thought. Please submit by pasting text into your message, rather than attaching a document. To ensure that your message actually posted, click “refresh” on your web browser: if you don’t see your message, you will need to repost it to receive credit for submitting on time. Each post is worth 3 points. The following rubric will be used to mark postings:

3=insightful, excellent use of course readings and materials; responsive to class discussion, genre blogs, and previous posts (if applicable); inspired ongoing discussion; very well written

2=displays good grasp of course readings and materials; some mention of class discussion, genre blogs, and previous posts (if applicable); inspired some further discussion; adequately written; outside the word count

1=poor grasp of course readings and materials; little mention of class discussion, genre blogs, and previous posts (if applicable); poorly written; outside the word count

0=very poor grasp of course readings and viewings, no mention of class discussion and previous posts (if applicable), very poorly written, outside the word count, submitted late, personally disrespectful, off-topic.


Group genre project (30% of final grade)

Our course textbook, readings, and lecture address several “big” topics related to the music industry—music industry sectors, the media, cultural producers and audiences, and interpretive approaches. It is risky, however, to make broad claims about popular music and the music industry because 1) it has changed significantly over time and 2) there is wide variation depending who makes and consumes the music and how they do so. One of the best ways to examine these differences is by considering musical genre: not only is it a key framework in popular music studies but it is also one of the main ways in which the industry classifies music, performers, and audiences. During the second week of class, we will divide into groups of 3-5 that will select a genre to “follow” for the semester. Genre selections may include hip hop, Latin music, country, “mainstream” pop, EDM, and rock musics. Groups will be responsible for developing expertise in their genre in relation to key class themes. They will communicate their findings with the class during discussion on Genre Lab days and by curating a blog on Wordpress, which will include 2 substantial entries on set topics, along with shorter posts and links. To facilitate good communication about this work, each group will draw up a contract early in the term that outlines the contributions and expectations for each member, using a template available on Avenue to Learn. On Genre Lab days, groups will have the opportunity to discuss their ongoing work, consult with the instructor and TA, and share their findings with each other as well as other groups. Detailed information on the evaluation criteria and expectations for this assignment is posted on Avenue to Learn and communicated in class.

Music criticism assignment (individual assignment) (9% of final grade)

This assignment is an opportunity to write in a more creative style about music, focusing on an individual song or video. In week 7, we will discuss and explore several examples of music critical writing, and the parameters for the assignment will be introduced. For this assignment, you should select a song or video of personal significance and/or interest to you. In 800 to 1200 words, you should explain how it relates to its genre(s) and the output of the artist(s), draw attention to what makes it interesting, and explain why it is significant (to you, to a social group, to the culture). If the song fits with your group’s genre, you are welcome to include it on your blog—although you are not required to do so. Information on the evaluation criteria and expectations for this assignment is posted on Avenue to Learn and communicated in class. Due at 11:59 p.m., Friday, 8 November; submit to Dropbox on Avenue.

Final exam (30% of final grade)

The final exam will help you reflect on the semester’s activities, readings, discussions, and presentations. It will be in short answer and essay format.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignment policy: On-line discussion postings will receive 0 credit if not posted by their deadline. For each twenty-four hour period that a component of the group genre project is late, the grade will be reduced by one letter grade (e.g., A+ to B+). In the case of sudden illness or family death, please communicate with your group members as soon as possible, and the instructor, if necessary, in order to make arrangements for submitting the assignment on time or to discuss the possibilities of an extension. I will require documentation to consider accepting a late assignment for full credit.

MSAF Statement:

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar “Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work.”

Students are reminded that the MSAF form is designed for minor medical situations (e.g., the flu) lasting up to 3 days. The form does not substitute for communication with the instructor—in fact, students are required contact the instructor within 2 days of submitting the form. Further, the MSAF leaves consideration for missed work at the discretion of the instructor. In CMST 3JJ3, consideration for missed work has been built into discussion posts assignments and the music criticism assignment. Students who “MSAF” a missed discussion posting will have 10 other opportunities throughout the term to submit the required 7 discussion postings. The Long Post Revision assignment is due on 8 November, but it will be accepted late without penalty until 16 November. Deadlines for the Group Genre Project are more complicated; if a student is not able to fulfil their commitments to their group because of a minor medical situation, they should communicate with their group and the instructor as soon as possible in order to make arrangements for submitting the assignment on time or to discuss the possibilities of an extension.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Integrity

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  • plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  • improper collaboration in group work.
  • copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Authenticity / Plagiarism Detection

Some courses may use a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. For courses using such software, students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or must still submit an electronic and/or hardcopy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to or A2L. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, other software, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to

Courses with an On-Line Element

Some courses use on-line elements (e.g. e-mail, Avenue to Learn (A2L), LearnLink, web pages, capa, Moodle, ThinkingCap, etc.). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of a course using these elements, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in a course that uses on-line elements will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Online Proctoring

Some courses may use online proctoring software for tests and exams. This software may require students to turn on their video camera, present identification, monitor and record their computer activities, and/or lockdown their browser during tests or exams. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Conduct Expectations

As a McMaster student, you have the right to experience, and the responsibility to demonstrate, respectful and dignified interactions within all of our living, learning and working communities. These expectations are described in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities (the "Code"). All students share the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment for the academic and personal growth of all McMaster community members, whether in person or online.

It is essential that students be mindful of their interactions online, as the Code remains in effect in virtual learning environments. The Code applies to any interactions that adversely affect, disrupt, or interfere with reasonable participation in University activities. Student disruptions or behaviours that interfere with university functions on online platforms (e.g. use of Avenue 2 Learn, WebEx or Zoom for delivery), will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. Outcomes may include restriction or removal of the involved students' access to these platforms.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities policy.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

Request for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work
McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar "Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work".

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.

Copyright and Recording

Students are advised that lectures, demonstrations, performances, and any other course material provided by an instructor include copyright protected works. The Copyright Act and copyright law protect every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including lectures by University instructors.

The recording of lectures, tutorials, or other methods of instruction may occur during a course. Recording may be done by either the instructor for the purpose of authorized distribution, or by a student for the purpose of personal study. Students should be aware that their voice and/or image may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak with the instructor if this is a concern for you.

Extreme Circumstances

The University reserves the right to change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances (e.g., severe weather, labour disruptions, etc.). Changes will be communicated through regular McMaster communication channels, such as McMaster Daily News, A2L and/or McMaster email.

Topics and Readings:

Week 1: Introduction

9/6: Class expectations; Class themes

Week 2: Studying Popular Music and the Music Industry


9/13: Defining “the popular”; studying popular music; what is the music industry?; consumers v. fans


Shuker: Introduction; Chapter 1 (pp. 9–13); Chapter 2 (25–28); Chapter 16 (pp. 261–64); Chapter 11 (pp. 186–93)

Week 3: Genre


9/20: Approaches to musical genre; the problem of authenticity; rock ideologies


Shuker: Chapter 6 (pp. 99–104); Chapter 7; Chapter 13 (220–27); Chapter 16 (pp. 264–69)

Keightley, Keir. “Reconsidering Rock.” In The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock, ed. Simon Frith, Will Straw, and John Street, 109-42. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Recommended resources:

Listening/viewing checklist [online]

Campbell chapter (guide to musical terms and concepts) [online]

--> Group Genre Project: Contract due: 11:59 p.m., Friday, 21 September

--> Group Genre Project: Site setup deadline: 11:59 p.m., Friday, 21 September

Week 4 Music Industry I: Live Performance


9/27: Live performance in 2 periods of transition; music professionals and employment (1920s-30s); pop concerts in the 2000s


Shuker: Chapter 3 (pp. 46-51)

Nott, James. “Developments in ‘Live Music’ 1918-1939: From ‘Performers’ to ‘Listeners.’” Music for the People: Popular Music and Dance in Interwar Britain, 99-126. London: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Holt, Fabian. “The Economy of Live Music in the Digital Age.” European Journal of Cultural Studies 13/2 (2010): 243-61.

Week 5: Music Industry II: Recording


10/4: Selling the South: segregating sound in the 1920s and 1930s; commodifying rap in the 2000s


Shuker: Chapter 1 (pp. 13–22); Chapter 2 (pp. 29–37); Chapter 8 (pp. 127–28)

Miller, Karl Hagstrom. “Race Records and Old-Time Music: The Creation of Two Marketing Categories in the 1920s.” Segregating Sound: Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow, 187-214, 312-17. Durham: Duke University Press, 2010.

Balaji, Murali. “The Construction of ‘Street Credibility’ in Atlanta’s Hip-Hop Music Scene: Analysing the Role of Cultural Gatekeepers.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 29/4 (2012): 313–19, 326–30.

-->Group Genre Project: long blog post 1 due: 11:59 p.m., Friday, 5 October



Fall Break, 8–12 October: NO CLASS


Week 6: Cultural Producers

10/15: GENRE LAB

10/18: creative control, gender, and race; stardom/auteurship


Shuker: Chapter 3 (39–46; 51–56); Chapter 4

Warwick, Jacqueline. “Record Producers and the Politics of Production.” Girl Groups, Girl Culture: Popular Music and Identity in the 1960s, 93-107, 232-34. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Seabrook, John. “The Song Machine.” The New Yorker, 26 March 2012. <>.

Harvey, Eric. “Beyoncé’s Digital Stardom.” Black Camera 9 (2017); 114–30.

Week 7: The Music Press and Music Criticism

10/22: GENRE LAB

10/25: the music press; writing popular music criticism


Shuker: Chapter 10

Brooks, Daphne A. “‘Once More with Feeling’: Popular Music Studies in the New Millennium.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 22/1 (2010): 98–106.

Clover, Joshua, Ange Mlinko, Greil Marcus, Ann Powers, and Daphne A. Brooks. “Critical Karaoke.” Popular Music 24/3 (2005): 423–27.

Wilson, Carl. “Let’s Talk About Hate” and “Let’s Talk About Pop (and Its Critics),” pp. 1–22. Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste. New York: Continuum, 2007.

Optional: listen to “#308: Jon Caramanica.” Longform Podcast, 29 August 2018. <>.

--> Group Genre Project: long blog post 2 due: 11:59 p.m., Friday, 26 October

Week 8: Fandom

10/29: music fandom and its practices; subcultures



Shuker: Chapter 11 (177–86); Chapter 12 (196–201)

Jennex, Craig. “Diva Worship and the Sonic Search for Queer Utopia.” Popular Music and Society 36/2 (2013): 343-59.


Week 9: Mediation I: Radio, CanCon, and Music Streaming


11/8: radio formats; CanCon; music streaming


Shuker: Chapter 7, 15

Berland, Jody. “Radio Space and Industrial Time: Music Formats, Local Narratives and Technological Mediation.” Popular Music 9/2 (1990): 179–92.

Anderson, Tim J. “Enter the End User: A New Audience for a New Media,” 12–32. Popular Music in a Digital Music Economy: Problems and Practices for an Emerging Service Industry. New York: Routledge, 2014.

--> Music criticism assignment due: 11:59 p.m., Friday, 8 November

Week 10: Mediation II: Television and YouTube

11/12: GENRE LAB

11/15: Music videos on television and YouTube


Shuker: Chapter 9; Chapter 5 (91–96)

Vernallis, Carol. “Beyoncé’s Overwhelming Opus; or, the Past and Future of Music Video.” Film Criticism 41/1 (2017): <;rgn=main>. DOI:

--> Group Genre Project: short blog post 1 due: 11:59 p.m., Friday, 16 November

Week 11: Scenes, Local Music Policy, and Independent Musicians

11/19: Special Guest: Lisa LaRocca, Sonic Unyon

11/22: Local scenes and indie music


Shuker: Chapter 12 (201–8)

Finch, Mark. “‘Toronto is the Best!’: Cultural Scenes, Independent Music, and Competing Urban Visions.” Popular Music and Society 38/3 (2015): 299–317.

“Hamilton Music Strategy.” Appendixes A and B (selections) to Report PED 14001, 2013.

Haynes, Jo and Lee Marshall. “Beats and Tweets: Social Media in the Careers of Independent Musicians.” New Media and Society 20/5 (2018): 1973–93.

--> Group Genre Project: short blog post 2 due: 11:59 p.m., Friday, 23 November

Week 12: What does it mean to be a musician, now?

11/26: Review session 1

11/29: Special Guests: Heather Kirby & Casey Mecija


Mecija, Casey. “Goodbye Ohbijou: Notes on Music, Labour, and the Impossibilities of Satisfying Multicultural Ideals in Canada.” Ohbijou News, 16 August 2013, <>. [online]

--> Group Genre Project: short blog post 3 due: 11:59 p.m., Friday, 30 November

Week 13: Review

12/3: Review session 2

--> Group Genre Project: Peer evaluation due: 11:59 p.m., Monday, 3 December


--> Final exam to be scheduled by the Registrar

Other Course Information:

Avenue to Learn: This course has an Avenue to Learn site, where you will be required to post your weekly journals, learn about class updates and resources, and participate in an online discussion forum. You can log in at

McMaster Policy for Courses with an On-line Element:
“In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn and Wordpress. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.”


Discussion: We will be discussing challenging and sometimes controversial material this semester. Everyone deserves to participate in a respectful class environment. If you have any concerns, please contact me.